Leading homelessness academic joins Social Bite campaign



A leading Heriot-Watt academic has joined forces with Social Bite on a new initiative to tackle homelessness.

The 600 homes campaign aims to take a minimum of 600 people out of homelessness within the next 18 months and give them a proper home with fully funded support.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpartick was a leading figure in the research behind the campaign – which engaged with almost every homelessness charity in the country on how homelessness could be eradicated in Scotland.

Now, the researcher will work with Social Bite and other partners on the scheme, which is funded by money raised from December's Sleep in the Park.

The 600 Homes campaign follows a 'Housing First' model, which aims to turn the existing homelessness system on its head.

Rather than making extremely vulnerable people, often with complex needs, sleep rough or in hostels or B&Bs, the model gives people secure home and support structure to help them sustain their tenancy and re-integrate into society.

A combined total of 500 properties have been offered in Edinburgh by City of Edinburgh Council and a range of housing associations (through EdIndex) and in Glasgow and the Central Belt from the Wheatley Group. Today, Dundee City Council (with partner housing associations) also pledges 100 homes over the 18 months of the program.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick said: “The international evidence base supporting Housing First is overwhelming. While no one approach will ever suit everyone, there can be no doubt that Housing First is the best possible way to help the great majority of homeless people with complex needs. What is critical now is to use this game-changing opportunity of the 600 Homes programme to structurally embed Housing First as the 'default option' for homeless people with complex needs across Scotland. There will be vital lessons here too for the rest of the UK.”

Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite added:  “Our plan is to start placing people that are currently sleeping rough and in hostels or other temporary accommodation into this mainstream housing this spring. We will now seek to work alongside other funders and The Scottish Government to ensure that the ambitious scale of this Housing First program can be realised and that it can help lead to a significant structural change in how homelessness is dealt with in Scotland. All involved believe that this can be a major step in dealing with the homelessness issue here.”